iTunes Is Finally Worth The Hassle!

Ding dong, DRM is dead! Apple Computer’s most lucrative money printer, iTunes, has finally dropped the use of distributed rights management software from all of their music products, ending a years-long haggle with both music corporation and electronic consumer advocates.

For those not in the know, until now, most of the music you had brought from iTunes had included Digital Rights Management software- programs that supposedly prevent people from copying the music file or burning it onto a CD. While, offhand, this seems like a legitimate means of combating the fierce and unrelenting tide of media piracy that’s affected the industry since Napster rose its cat-eared head, the problems with DRM had proven numerous- and, ultimately, fatal.

The most obvious problem with DRM is, of course, that it simply doesn’t work. The black-hat hacking community can often break the electronic media lock within days or weeks, disseminating their results faster than companies can react. Sometimes, as demonstrated a year or two ago with the breaking of Bluray’s DRM scheme, they can even do this before the product is publicly available, causing massive embarrassment for the industry executives that just poured millions of dollars into their scheme.

But obvious isn’t the same as important, and the biggest, most fatal flaw with DRM is, quite simply, how it affects you.

The “success” of DRM-crippled software relies on two things: that the company that made the software stays afloat, and that they will continue to upgrade the software for every product ever sold for every operating system ever released from here on out.

So if the security company that sold the rights management software to your new game goes under, expect to never, ever, play the game again once you’re forced to upgrade to Windows 7. Even worse, some DRM packages uses online authentication- so if the company’s servers go down, so does your media.

What’s notable about DRM-crippled products is how massively they differ from all other consumer products. When we think of buying a product, we usually consider it a wholesale transfer of ownership – so long, of course, as we agree not to copy the product itself. But what DRM does is quite another thing altogether – consumers literally pay for nothing more than limited access. Like buying a potato and told you can only make fries out of it, not shepherd’s pie or mashed potatoes, under the threat of legal duress. Beyond the more lofty debate about the limits it imposes on artistic creativity, DRM is very simply anti-consumer.

So kudos to Steve Jobs and company for remembering who truly signs their paychecks – not the greedy media corporations desperately wringing every last red cent out of the consumers, but the consumers themselves. Removing DRM from iTunes’ music offerings was exactly the right action to take.

Now, if only they could do the same for ebooks and movies.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on January 27, 2009.

5 Responses to “iTunes Is Finally Worth The Hassle!”

  1. Meh. CD’s are too expensive, and to be honest, I don’t quite care about music enough to buy it over downloading. Even before the days of downloading, I never bought music. Even if iTunes music was a third of the price, it’s still a low bitrate mp3 that I have to pay actual money for.

    They can keep their DRM free music; I’ll enjoy my free, lossless encoded downloads. If I wanted to support an artist financially, I’d go see their show and/or buy their merchandise.

  2. To be fair, that’s pretty much my position. But iTunes does do a decent job of making music purchase easy. It’s sometimes easier to just click “buy” than to scrounge around for a torrent.

  3. But scrounging around for a torrent is the fun part! :)

    Besides, I have an account on what.cd, there’s almost no scrounging involved.

  4. Ah-hem. Speaking of what.cd… /meaningful_look

  5. Oh, finally. Here’s hoping that others follow the lead. If the *AA cabals are still going to get their knickers in a twist about it, then have them lobby the legislative to add a tax onto our Internet fee or the purchase of writable media so they get their royalties, we get our media, and everybody’s happy.

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